Friday, August 09, 2019

Thanks to Eve Ball We Know Geronimo's Last Words

August 9, 2019
   I've received some interesting updates on the Geronimo Camp Meeting photograph.

   "If you do a little image enhancement a la contrast and sharpness, you can see a big white tent in the background behind the man standing in the photo which I suspect is where the actual 'tent meetings' were held. The Apaches were fond of personal outdoor arbors (see the photo of Geronimo’s house) in addition to their wickiups and tipis. This photo might be their meeting tent equivalent."
—Michael Farmer

Geronimo's house with brush arbor

   Photo provided by Michael Farmer! Thank you, sir.

   In addition to these updates, I got this note from another noted Fort Sill historian:

"I have not seen this image before but it is the right time and the right church group for the conversion of Geronimo.  I do not recognize Geronimo in the photo however.  The Dutch Reformed Church, aka Reformed Church of America, built their mission in what was called the 'Punch Bowl' near the center of Fort Sill in the heart of the 12 Apache POW villages.  While there were several tribes represented among their members, it catered heavily to the Chiricahua and Warm Springs Apache who were POWs on Fort Sill at the time.   
"The individual (2d from right) with back to the camera may be Frank Wright who was a Choctaw minister for this church and often came to Fort Sill.  His father, Allan Wright, also a Choctaw minister, is often credited with providing the name for the Territory and the State of 'Oklahoma'." 

—Towana Spivey

Fort Sill Historian Towana Spivey

   Meanwhile, on a related note, another Apache historian is my good friend Lynda Sanchez, who filled in some of the blank spots for me on when exactly, her mentor, Eve Ball, got the confidence of Ace Daklugie and the other Apaches who were at Fort Sill, but in 1913, moved to the Mescalero Reservation near Ruidoso.

   The significance to all of this is that the broad outlines of what happened when Geronimo died were known, but when Eve Ball finally got the confidence of Ace Daklugie, who was with Goyathlay when he passed, it was Eve who was able to get the full story of Geronimo's last words. It's important and I want to provide that context in the book.

   This photo was taken at a book signing for Eve Ball's book, "Indeh, An Apache Odyssey," 1980, in Ruidoso, New Mexico.  Eve was 90-years-old and finally getting the recognition that she had worked so hard to achieve.  Co-author Lynda Sánchez is at right.  Lynda was just beginning her writing and research career at this time.

   And here is Lynda's memory of how they met and worked together:

   “Such an honor and learning experience is not often granted to people in life, yet from 1973 until her death in 1984 I was given that privilege. Perhaps fate guided me to Eve Ball during a Lincoln County Historical Society meeting where she was the guest speaker.  We hit it off immediately and when she learned that I was intrigued by Apache history she invited me to her home and subsequently to be her assistant.  As a result I met many of the relatives of the old warrior families and learned much from them and from the grand lady who had devoted her later life to obtaining as much of their history as possible from the Apache point of view.  That was rare, but Eve was gutsy, fun, and she kept her word. She made no value judgments!   Many of the women  grew to be her friends. Ramona (Chihuahua) Daklugie, wife of Ace Daklugie, nephew of Geronimo, was one of her trusted friends and sources yet it took four years for Daklugie to decide she was worthy.   Once they met he came to her home with documents, photos and his heartrending stories of life both as an Apache warrior and as a young man trying to walk between two worlds.”
—Lynda Sanchez

Ramona Chihuahua Daklugie, daughter of Chief Chihuahua, wife of the nephew of Geronimo, Asa (Ace) Daklugie, and friend to Eve Ball

   So, I asked Lynda how Ramona helped Eve Ball get the story.

   "Eve Ball and Ramona were friends.  When Ramona passed away, Daklugie remained aloof.  Eve knew that he was the key to getting others to speak and to open their hearts and doors to her. Finally she stopped by Daklugie’s granddaughter’s home and asked if she could visit with him to express her sympathy.  Evangeline always made excuses that her grandfather was ill, or not in yet one day Eve saw the old man’s booted legs behind the door.  Yet it took four more years before he made any effort to speak to the old white lady.  That was because he wanted to go to the Gallup ceremonials and Eve, his daughter and others were going.  He arrived at Eve’s adobe home packed and ready to go.  That was the beginning and continued for a good long while. Once the ice was broken he came to her house every Thursday to dictate and discuss the many observations and life experiences he had.  Once he began coming to visit (well chaperoned I might add) others followed.  Asa died in 1955.

So, tell me how Daklugie and the others made the transition from Fort Sill to Mescalero, New Mexico.

   "For many years a large contingency of Apaches wanted to return to Mescalero.  Daklugie and Eugene Chihuahua were the driving force to get the people returned to the Southwest.  After Geronimo’s death they pressed even harder.  The White Eyes could no longer use him as an excuse for not allowing these people, after 27 years, to return.  They returned to Mescalero, New Mexico, in the spring of 1913.  They loaded all their household goods, supplies, people and dogs on a train which arrived in Tularosa, New Mexico, in April.  The Mescaleros and others met them with wagons at the station and they began the long trek up the mountain to Mescalero and a new life.  It is really quite a dramatic story."
—Lynda Sanchez

   By the way, it is Lynda who has done so much important work on the last Apache holdouts in Mexico, who continued raiding until the 1930s.

Daily Whip Out: "Apache Twilight, II"

   This is my favorite part of history. I love it when people who have spent their lives studying and researching this amazing aspect of our history get together and share their knowledge. This is when we all win.

Daily Whip Out: "Apache Crown Dancer, II"

Geronimo's Final Request
"He moved. I bent over him and took his hand. His fingers closed on mine and he opened his eyes. 

   "'My nephew,' he said, 'promise me that you and Ramona will take my daughter Eva, into your home and care for her as you do your own children. Promise me that you will not let her marry. If you do, she will die. The women of our family have great difficulty, as Ishton [Daklugie's mother] had. Do not let this happened to Eva!"

   "He closed his eyes and again he slept, but restlessly. When he spoke again he said, 'I want you to promise.'"

  "Ramona and I will take your daughter and love her as our own, but how can I prevent her from marrying?'

   "She will obey you. She has been taught to obey. See that she does.'

   "He died with his fingers clutching my hand."
—Asa Daklugie, telling Eve Ball what Geronimo said to him on his deathbed

"The brave old warrior was dying, like a woman, in a hospital."
—Eugene Chihuahua, also interviewed by Eve Ball

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